Spring and summer is a magical time to visit London: the buds of spring turn into the flowers of summer and both Londoners and visitors alike head for the large variety of open spaces. For London, of course, its The Royal Parks and Kensington House Hotel is ideally situated to make the most of the fine weather. Tucked away in a Kensington residential area, this elegant townhouse property is very popular with those visiting the Royal Albert Hall, the shops of Knightsbridge, Kensington Palace and Gardens and Hyde Park. Rates start at around £120 per double room including continental buffet breakfast and VAT, subject to availability. Here’s five reasons to visit Kensington House Hotel (KenHouse) this season!
Kensington Palace was, to all intents and purposes, the creation of William III and Mary II who bought the former Nottingham House for GBP20,000 to transform into their palace. In February 1702, artist William Kent submits his plans for the decoration of George I’s state rooms and these you can see today. Queen Victoria was actually born at Kensington Palace and is was here, on 20th June 1837, that she received news from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain that she was now Queen.
The state apartments at Kensington Palace opened to the public for the first time on 24th May 1899. Today’s highlights are: The Queen’s State Apartments, The Palace Garden, The King’s Staircase, The King’s State Apartments and The King’s Gallery.
There are two exhibitions currently showing – Victoria Revealed and Fashion Rules and to celebrate Her Majesty becoming Britain’s longest serving monarch, a film paralleling her life with that of Queen Victoria – Longest Reign. Little tip – buy your tickets online for a discount – GBP16.90 rather than GBP18.00 per adult. Children under 16 go free. Ten minute walk from the hotel.
Interesting nugget: The Kensington Palace team have made what looks like paper period clothes as props to bring the magnificent rooms alive in the palace. Although its not paper – it’s made from Tyvek – the same material used by CSI’s in the UK!
Even the vast majority of Londoner’s don’t know about The Italian Gardens located in Kensington Gardens. They were built by Prince Albert as an expression of love for his Queen Victoria and they consist of four main basins with central rosettes, all elaborately carved in Carrara marble, and the famous Portland stone and white marble Tazza Fountain. These are surrounded by intricately carved stone statues and urns. The urns have five main designs – the Swan’s breast, woman’s head, ram’s head, dolphin and oval.
They are situated at the head of The Long Water – the river which flows through Kensington Gardens into Hyde Park where it becomes The Serpentine. It is Grade II listed by English Heritage as a site of particular importance. Other things to see include the Princess of Wales Memorial Garden and the Peter Pan Statue.
Interesting nugget: Interestingly enough, this is the first time we spotted duck ladders, allowing our feathered friends easy access to the basins for a splash in the water!
Love architecture? Then you will probably enjoy seeing Zaha Hadid’s design for The Magazine at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. When you tire of either boating, swimming or watching people on The Serpentine, refresh your batteries in this restaurant, basking in the flowing free-form of Zaha’s beautiful building. When the Serpentine Sackler Gallery opened in 2013 it effectively became one half of the Serpentine Gallery, the other being just a five minute walk away over the Serpentine Bridge.
Visit between 10th June – 9th October 2016 and see the famous summer temporary exhibitions – this year, taking the form of the Serpentine Summer Houses. The main pavilion this year is by Danish architects BIG and will feature a tall pointed structure made of interlocking fibreglass “bricks”. For the first time ever, four other summerhouses will accompany this pavillion by Nigerian architect Kunle Adeyemi, Berlin studio Barkow Leibinger, Paris based architect Yona Friedman and British architect Asif Khan. The Serpentine each year allows talented architects the opportunity to build their first project in England, albeit on a temporary basis.
The programme for the ever popular 2016 BBC Proms season will be announced on 13th April with bookings opening on 7th May. Based at Kensington’s Royal Albert Hall, just a ten minute walk from Kensington House Hotel, this is the summer’s most popular classical music event although, of course, there are concerts happening every day. It’s even possible to take a tour of this impressive building, built in memory of Prince Albert by Queen Victoria. The red Aberdeen granite Foundation Stone was laid on 20th May 1867 and can still be seen today under Stalls K, Row 11, Seat 87!
An allotment in a Royal Park? Yes it’s true – Kensington Gardens has created an allotment next to the storeyard (near the Magazine, along Buckhill Walk) following the success of a similar idea in St James’s Park. Anyone is welcome to wander around the allotment and to garner some useful tips for growing your own fruit and vegetables at home. There are also chickens running around, adding another element of self-sufficiency. They are open every day from 09.30 – 16.00.
Photo credit thanks to: Sue Lowry and for the allotment gardens, The Royal Parks.
Background: Kensington House Hotel, (KenHouse), a contemporary town house of just 41 rooms, situated on Prince of Wales Terrace within an historic 19th century façade, has taken its place amongst the Kensington set and London’s cognoscenti. Stylish, intimate and friendly, this cool and understated property, which lies just off High Street Kensington, is an oasis of calm amidst the buzz of central London with overnight rates starting at £99 inclusive of VAT and breakfast.